Dec. 5 To the Editor:

I rise from my committed idleness to recognize one of the most sensible public servants I am aware of in a city where that is not a complete contradiction in terms. The report by traffic and transportation engineer Eric Eby as recounted in your Dec 4 article, "Limited speed control measures suggested for Aldrich Road," makes a number of sane observations, but two stand out to me. The first is that parked cars are a very effective "traffic-calming" measure. The other is that yellow lines down the middle of the road are a "traffic-aggravating" factor.

Cars have little respect for a person on foot, but they have a lot of respect for parked cars, which can damage bumpers and scratch paint. And obstacles so close to the field of vision increase the driver's perception of speed. Yellow lines on the other hand feed the driver's sense of entitlement and invulnerability.

But of course the city's recent re-engineering of the street actually decreased the availability of on-street parking while brightening up the yellow lines!

Aldrich Road is an admirable street that provides what seems like an attractive living environment while performing the key role of a public street: getting the public where it wants to go. To call the street a "shortcut between Middle and Islington streets," as your reporter does, raises the question, how else is one to get from Middle to Islington, which never intersect, other than by a connecting street? In what sense is that a shortcut?

What is at fault is not one street but the absence of more connecting streets like it, owing to the city's systematic and long-standing failure to prioritize connectivity in its street layout. At some point the city bought into the idea that everyone should live on a cul-de-sac (French for dead end) and not have to watch any strangers drive by. This has degraded the driveabilty, but also the walkability, liveability, and very health of the community: A study once found an inverse correlation between the number of intersections in a neighborhood and the number of fatal heart attacks!

I don't blame Aldrich residents for complaining, for they have been denied the American Dream of a street of their own. But not nearly as much as the residents of South Street, Middle Street, Middle Road, Marcy Street, . . .

Enough. Idleness calls.

David Ewing